Hello! Welcome to Feels and Flowers, where your host finally has finally come to grips with reality (it only took a little under a month) and decides to move forward. You should too. After all, the world is on the brink of change–let’s make sure the change is a positive one!
This week we are talking about one thing that keeps a lot of us back: Nostalgia. A longing for the good ol’ days to return in any capacity (Seems an innocent enough wish, right? WRONG!!!). To do so we delve into Genesis 13 and 19, which deal with Abrams nephew Lot who, much like your host, was in search of his own place in the world and at a critical point made a choice. Tragically, he chose wrongly. Learn what his mistake was and how to avoid it.
The flower of the week is Cinnamon! Learn about its history, its uses in aromatherapy, and also why the Cinnamon you know and love is probably a big fat fake. Find cinnamon blends to make your home smell like the holidays at https://feelsandflowers.com/featured-flowers/cinnamon/
Find semi-accurate show transcripts, essential oil blends, notes from the episode, and all kinds of random extras at https://feelsandflowers.com/episode-014
Send me flowers! Your comments and emails will make my day. A special thanks to all of you who reached out after last episode. I was so happy and touched to receive your words of encouragement. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Instagram @feelsandflowerspodcast and Twitter @feelsandflowers. Finally, Don’t forget to follow or subscribe to Feels and Flowers and tell others about it. Plus if you would, I’d love it if you would rate it. Thanks! XoXo!!!!
I once heard say that one of the impediments of setting off in the spiritual life is that we are not sufficiently unhappy. We’re too content with compromising with life,
— [THEME MUSIC] —
Welcome to Feels and Flowers, a Christian podcast where I share with you a gospel based entirely on love: Love God, love yourself, love others. Full stop.
My name is Paula Perez.
We are going through some difficult times. We are a nation divided, and in some of the podcast communities I am in, we’ve been asking ourselves if it is alright to continue putting out episodes when things are so dark. Do we ignore what’s going on and become people’s escapism? Is it our duty to try to find a silver lining in the violence going on? Should we use our platforms to attempt to change minds? Or do we inflame our listeners and challenge them to action? Do we go dark until things go back to normal?
What is “back to normal”?
Honestly my life has seen some dramatic changes and it’s taken a while for my mind to catch up. So here I am with my tiny platform: a little podcast listened to by a small number of people. What can I do? What answers can I give? What can I contribute to the cacophony?
I don’t have answers.
But I can point to one ever reliable source for the questions that haunt us. Because no matter where you’re from, what color, or even what your political stance is, I’m sure you like I am wondering
Where do we go from here? How do we fix this? How do we make things right and make this land a land of justice and peace and safety and freedom for all?
Simple. We move forward.
But there is something that blocks us from moving forward, it is our need to look back to the past. That is why in this episode as we talk about Genesis 13 and 19 I will tell you why this longing to go back to the past is the pitfall of progress, and what you can do to propel yourself forward.
But first, the featured flower, which in this case is the bark of a tree, not a flower: Cinnamon.
— [FLOWER MUSIC] —
In the culinary world, the word “cinnamon” is the general term applied to a variety of spices obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. It is a very popular aromatic condiment that is used to flavor food and is also valued for its fragrance, particularly because it has the ability to make people feel warm and comfy. I mean, if Christmas, Thanksgiving, or indeed, home, has an aroma it is definitely cinnamon.
However, if we want to talk about essential oils and the therapeutic properties of cinnamon, we need to be sure that we are talking about true cinnamon and make a distinction between it and the quote-unquote “fake” cinnamon which is also known as Cassia Cinnamon.
Though flavor-wise there is not a great distinction between the true cinnamon and the false cinnamon, the chemical makeup of their essential oils does vary enough that I need to make a distinction between them.
Let’s look at the true cinnamon,
True Cinnamon is also known as Ceylon cinnamon. It is the rarer of the two as it is almost exclusively produced in Sri Lanka. It is lighter in color, softer in texture, and breaks apart easily. The sticks are thin and papery and form multiple layers when rolled up. A fool-proof way to identify true cinnamon is that it kinda looks like one of those rolled up cigars. It is quite easy to grind true cinnamon, or even to break a piece of cinnamon from the stick. Taste-wise, true cinnamon is lighter, brighter, and has almost citrusy tones. This is the cinnamon my mom uses at home, and there is nothing quite like coming home on a cold night and having a cup of cinnamon tea. It’s warm and fragrant, and oh, so good.
Cassia cinnamon is the cheaper, lower-quality alternative to true cinnamon. Its sticks are deep brown in color, hard, thick, and do not break easily. It looks like a little scroll. Cassia packs a punch. It is much spicier. This is due to the fact that 95% of its oils are cinnamaldehyde compounds and is why in my opinion it lacks aromatic nuance. In addition, Cassia contains a larger amount of coumarin, an aromatic organic compound which some studies have shown can negatively impact the liver and kidneys. While there have been studies on lab rats that also show that coumarin causes tumors, I found that after reading several scientific articles on this, the results of the study do not actually apply to humans, as 1: humans metabolize these compounds much differently than rats, and 2: humans would have to consume insane amounts of Cassia cinnamon on a regular basis for this to apply (Though if you are one of the people that like to ingest essential oils on the regular, you should really re-consider it, since essential oils are so strong).
Sadly, If you live in the states and you buy your cinnamon already ground, it is most likely Cassia Cinnamon since the bulk of the cinnamon that is sold in the United States is of the Cassia variety.
There is no question that of the two, true Cinnamon offers a more nuanced and less irritating alternative, and though it commands a premium price that can be up to 10 times the price of Cassia, if you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend you do the switch to true Cinnamon. We get ours at our local Mexican market. If you want to see the difference in appearance between Cassia and Cinnamon you can just do a Google image search. You’ll see what I mean.
I’m going to share my favorite way to use cinnamon essential oil at the end of the episode, but if you want a detailed breakdown on the benefits and differences true Cinnamon bark, cinnamon leaf, and cassia essential oils, you’re going to have to go to Feelsandflowers.com and look up Cinnamon under the featured flowers because this episode will go on forever if I don’t.
Anyway as fun as the Featured Flower segment is, we must get back to Genesis.
— [FLOWER MUSIC FADE OUT] —
Abram and Lot Separate:
Abram left Egypt and went back to the Negev, he and his wife and everything he owned, and Lot still with him. By now Abram was very rich, loaded with cattle and silver and gold.
He moved on from the Negev, camping along the way, to Bethel, the place he had first set up his tent between Bethel and Ai and built his first altar. Abram prayed there to God.
Lot, who was traveling with Abram, was also rich in sheep and cattle and tents. But the land couldn’t support both of them; they had too many possessions. They couldn’t both live there—quarrels broke out between Abram’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds. …. Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have fighting between us, between your shepherds and my shepherds. After all, we’re family. Look around. Isn’t there plenty of land out there? Let’s separate. If you go left, I’ll go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.”
Lot looked. He saw the whole plain of the Jordan spread out, well watered (this was before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah), like God’s garden, like Egypt, and stretching all the way to Zoar. Lot took the whole plain of the Jordan. Lot set out to the east.
That’s how they came to part company, uncle and nephew. Abram settled in Canaan; Lot settled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent near Sodom.
The people of Sodom were evil—flagrant sinners against God.
After Lot separated from him, God said to Abram, “Open your eyes, look around. Look north, south, east, and west. Everything you see, the whole land spread out before you, I will give to you and your children forever. I’ll make your descendants like dust—counting your descendants will be as impossible as counting the dust of the Earth. So—on your feet, get moving! Walk through the country, its length and breadth; I’m giving it all to you.”
Abram moved his tent. He went and settled by the Oaks of Mamre in Hebron. There he built an altar to God.
Today I am not going to talk about Abram. The focus of this week’s episode is going to be on Lot. Lot, whom I’ve barely mentioned, was Abram’s nephew. When God called Abram to leave Haran, Lot also decided to join Abram in his travels. I’m sure that Lot loved and looked up to his uncle, and it is evident to me that Lot shared in Abram’s values and also worshiped the true God.
Lot enjoyed many of the blessings that came Abram’s way. Simply by virtue of being part of Abram’s family he also enjoyed having the regard and respect of the neighboring towns, not to mention the blessing and protection of God as they traveled to parts unknown. In fact, I bet that after the fiasco in Egypt, where Pharaoh enriched them with many gifts because of Sarai, Lot also got a good share of the gold and camels and servants, for Abram was a very generous man.
Yet, like any young person I’m sure that after some time he must have felt like striking out on his own. Haven’t you ever felt that if given the chance you probably could do just as good a job (or even better of a job) if your senior manager, or boss, or supervisor, or even your own parents ever gave you the chance to call the shots and let you work independently?
You have to hand it to Lot, though. He didn’t say “Hey uncle, so after what you put us through in Egypt and how close we came to losing our heads over Sarai, I think I’m going to take my chances and go on my own.” He could have said that, but instead he remained part of the family unit until the time Abram brought up the topic of going their own ways.
They didn’t fight. They split on friendly terms. It was just that together they had way too many sheep and cattle so that there was not enough pasture and resources to support them all.
Abram swept his arm in a gesture that indicated the land before them. Together they’d toured it and seen all the natural resources that it had to offer. Together they’d met the people, gotten to know their language and customs. Together they’d gone into the cities and seen their riches and their might as well as the way neighboring towns bickered and squabbled. Together they’d seen all the land and its people, and were aware of both the good and the bad.
“Take your pick of the land,” Abram said, “If you go left, I’ll go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.” And so Lot, standing at that crossroads which unbeknownst to him would define the rest of his and his family’s life, looked out into the land and made his choice to go toward the plain of Jordan.
Now, let’s put aside the fact that courtesy would have dictated that Lot yield the choice to Abram (That’s an issue that shows how Lot lost his head for a bit and in a moment of weakness and selfishness went for what seemed the most advantageous.)
So come with me. Take off your shoes and socks. Let’s put ourselves in his sandals now.
First, a bit of backstory. Lot and Abram originally came from Ur, in the land of the Chaldeans before they moved and settled down in Haran.
Ur was located along the Euphrates river in a region of what is now Iraq. When we Americans think of Iraq our minds conjure up deserts and wars and sandstorms. But in ancient days this was the epitome of human progress, it was the cradle of civilization.
And it was a beautiful, well-watered land. There were irrigated fields, aqueducts, canals and marshes. An abundance of water from a large network of rivers which supported agriculture and farming of many animals. There was an abundance of plant varieties, and fields of flax, wheat, barley, and lentils thrived. Additionally the Chaldeans were an advanced civilization, with fortified cities and large temples. It was an impressive place.
So when Lot saw out into the land in front of him he saw the area east of him.
The plain of Jordan not only reminded him of the bounty of Egypt but most importantly it reminded him of that well-watered land where his family was from. He felt the breeze coming from the plain of Jordan and it seemed to him like it was the same gentle wind that used to blow the rushes along the river back when he was a kid living in Ur. It reminded him of a place he might have still thought of as home. A place where he belonged.
Yes, his choice was a selfish one and born out of greed. But I can’t but fail to wonder …. What if part of his mistake was also that he fell into a pitfall of nostalgia and in so doing, Lot forgot that back in Ur, the Chaldeans did not believe in the true God. Back in Ur his family had been surrounded by godlessness, wickedness, and even violence.
There was a reason why they’d left Ur to go to Haran in the first place.
He lingered a little too long on those memories, and he got greedy.
And so he bid farewell to his uncle and took his family and his servants and all his livestock and all he owned and settled on the best region available, pitching his tents ever closer to Sodom and Gomorrah while Abram settled down for the rest of his days in a forested area to the north, and there built an altar to God.
The years pass and when we see Lot a few years later he has become one of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah–and not just any person, but an elder: rich and respected; a leader who sits at its gates. But because he still fears God he and his family are spared when Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. God sent angels to save them. Genesis 19 tells us that,
With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”
16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
….. 24 Then, [when they reached safety] the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Again, hesitation on his part and on the part of his wife. Again, that cursed longing for what they left behind.
I think we can all agree we are at a moment in time where we as a nation, a church, and as individuals will define what the future looks like by the choices, however small, or innocuous, that we make now. My prayer is that we choose the path of justice, mercy, and love. Even if this path makes us uncomfortable, even if this path hurts and forces us to change the way we think and the way we live, it’s worth taking.
This week, I heard a quote that I liked a lot. You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.
What I am the most afraid of–what we all should be afraid of right now–is actually going back to what we deemed as normal. We are in danger of it if we keep looking back at the past, at how life used to be before the unrest and the pandemic and deciding that we’d rather let things run their course so we can go back to how life was. For those of us who led a blissfully uneventful life of tranquil habits and who were blessed to have health and family and security, it is tempting to just want to go back to normal.
It is all too easy to get caught up in that nostalgia and longing for the good ol’ days. But in the good ol’ days we would not have risen up against injustice as we have done now, or at least we would still be unaware of it. And what about this COVID business that is still a major global issue? We wouldn’t value our health, our family, communities, or even the ability to go outside and breathe the fresh air.
The good old days didn’t challenge a number of us who were ok with accepting the status quo.
So you tell me. Do you long to go back? It’s ok. Answer honestly, because listen. Anybody that knows me will tell you that I am a sentimentalist at heart and am particularly prone to intense bouts of nostalgia.
Here’s a stupid example: I cleaned out my bookshelf and desk this past week and I couldn’t bear to part with some random things. Like super random. Stupid trinkets and books, a flyer, a map. Stuff I no longer needed. Why? Because they took me back to this time or that event in my life that happened when I was so happy and so young and so carefree.
It was hard for me, but all that stuff went into the trash. And stayed there.
So I’m not here to tell you it’s easy, and I’m not here to condemn you if you’ve ever felt that what you need to be happy and whole, is to go back to how things used to be. I’m here to tell you: Yes, we were happy and blessed in the past but we’re probably idealizing that time in our lives.
We can’t even go back. It is impossible. Look ahead of you, the land is spread out before us, and we are on the brink of something great and marvelous. Can you feel it? Because I can. We are all on that brink of change: Not just on a national level, but also on a personal level as well. Even a spiritual level. It is time for you to take charge of your life and move forward. It might hurt a bit, growing is such an uncomfortable thing, but it is necessary.
And if you’ve gained glory and acclaim in the past? Well, don’t rest on your laurels. Keep moving. Keep fighting. And if you never had a past worth being nostalgic about? Well don’t throw in that towel! For you who have everything to fight for and everything to gain, don’t give up.
Let’s move forward. Let’s not look back and let’s not let the past determine our future.
Move forward in all areas of your life. Discard the things of the past which tempt you to stay where you are. This also applies to our spiritual walk. I once heard say that one of the impediments of setting off in the spiritual life is that we are not sufficiently unhappy. We’re too content with compromising with life, the comforts that counterbalance the little irritants of life.
I dare say these last couple of days have helped to make us feel sufficiently unhappy to shake us up a bit and I pray and hope that the past 3 months have gotten you to pay more attention to this area in your life.
We are called to be faithful disciples of God. I hope that you also reach new heights and choose to grow rather than remain in your stagnant comfort zone that offers little in the way of challenge and even less in the way of reward.
Paul said in Philippians 3:
The very credentials…people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master… everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him….I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us forward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
— [OUTRO MUSIC] —
Thank you for listening. Before I go, I’d like to briefly tell you some of the key features about Cinnamon essential oil. It is
- Helps ease colds, flu, and other infectious and viral diseases
- Disinfects and clear the air when diffused
- Treats insect bites, head lice, scabies, warts, and wasp stings
- Aids in digestive health when massaged over abdomen
- Helps calm stomach cramps
- Promotes appetite
- Stimulates circulatory and respiratory systems
- Encourages and regulates menstrual flow
- Helps with menstrual pains
- Relieves pain associated with arthritis and rheumatism
- Uplifting and energizing
I use cinnamon cassia for its antiseptic properties. I used to struggle a lot with bleeding gums every time I flossed or even brushed, and in large part because I incorporated essential oils to my oral health routine the problem has been taken care of. I use a blend of peppermint, cinn
Safety! Never ingest cinnamon or cassia. I mean it. And if you apply topically, never use above recommended concentration levels. And never use it neat. Trust me. I made the mistake once and it burned! My skin got an angry red and even washing with soap and water couldn’t do away with the burning sensation for a time. Learn more about how to use it safely and several diffusion blends and ways you can use cinnamon or cassia at my website.
Allright! That’s it for this week.
You can find more about using essential oils and essential oil blends at feelsandflowers.com. Additionally you can find episode transcripts and extras like citations and links to learn more on the post for this episode.
Send me flowers! If you’d like a shoutout or you just want to say hi, you can reach me at email@example.com or you can also follow me on social media (Links are in the description). If you enjoy Feels and Flowers please be sure to review F&F on Apple podcasts. That would really help me a lot.
Love you! Until next time… please remember that you are beautiful, you are loved, and you were made with a purpose.
Some extra reading:
Patriarchs and Prophets: Abram in Canaan
The Great Cinnamon Debate: cassia vs true cinnamon: